Thursday, December 8, 2022

Comfort and Joy


If we happened to be playing a word association game, and I said 'Christmas' you would undoubtedly reply with something cheerful. Words like 'merry' or 'carol' or 'cookie' (yum!) or even 'cheer' itself. And yet, for some people Christmas isn't quite as merry this year as it has been. 

Because, let's face it, life is hard lately. 

For me personally, the approach of Christmas also means the approach of the one-year mark (Dec 13th) since my precious Daddy met Jesus face-to-face. I know I'm not alone in this struggle, as I have over 30 friends who have lost a parent in 2021 or 2022 - including a few of the other Seekers, too. And while Christmas is still my favorite holiday, my enthusiasm is tempered a bit again this year with grief.

This co-existence of sorrow and joy is something I've been pondering this year, and so it's no surprise that the words of the English carol God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen jumped out at me this year like never before: 

                        TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY 

The word 'comfort' implies that there is some sort of sorrow present, doesn't it? The need to be comforted rarely comes without pain or loss or grief. But we sing about those tidings of comfort alongside the tidings of joy without really stopping to realize what we're singing, don't we? Comfort... and the need for it... and joy co-existing? How is that possible?

I love these lyrics from 'Comfort and Joy' by Tasha Layton:

There's no need to keep your tears from falling
Sometimes what's most painful are those holidays
But Christmas shows that God cares for us deeply
The same boy in the manger holds you still today

Because yes, in a few days, it will be one year since my dad left this earthly life and saw Jesus face-to-face. And yet... in 17 days, we will celebrate that same Jesus who was "born that man no more may die". It's the reason i love Christmas so much - it changed everything. And this juxtaposition of 'comfort and joy' MEANS everything. It means that I can laugh with my nephews' infectious giggles when they're trying to keep me from 'memorizing' them with selfies. It means I can smile at the Christmas songs & the decor & the goodies & the presents & the happy memories of past holidays. It means that I can do a happy dance when I *finally* win a game of Munchkin with our older nieces & nephews. And... it means I can have a grief meltdown without being consumed by hopelessness. God knew we would need both comfort and joy in this life, so He sent His Son to make a way for them to co-exist with an assured HOPE that death is not the end. 

I am so so grateful for a Savior who enters into our grief with us and says “you’re right, it’s not supposed to be like this and I’ve come to make a way - THE way - for all the sad things to one day be untrue.” Yes, we grieve. We cry. We ache for one more hug, one more conversation. Sometimes we even stay curled up in our car, sobbing, instead of going into the Christmas party we planned to attend. (Ask me how I know this.) But we do not grieve without HOPE. He binds up the broken-hearted and He knows every tear we cry. But He’s also told us the end of the story - the happily ever after made possible because of the Light of the world.

Another song I've come to love lately is Francesca Battistelli's Behold Him:

In your silent nightWhen you're not alrightLift your eyes and behold himFeel the thrill of hopeYou are not aloneIn this moment, behold him
Christmas changed everything, y'all. When grief threatens to consume you this season, lift your eyes and behold Him, the Son of God who was 'born that man no more may die'. Can sorrow and joy coexist? Yes! Because Christmas changes everything!! The moment Jesus was born in that long-ago stable, death ultimately lost its power for all of us who accept the gift of His death & resurrection.

One of the things that also brings me joy each Christmas season are the banana drop cookies my grandmother made every year - and that my husband now makes in her stead. These are everything lovely and comforting about banana bread... in a cookie!!!


1 & 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
2 & 1/4 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

plus (for topping)

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream sugar, shortening, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in mashed bananas. Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add and mix well. Chill 30 minutes (the dough, not you…. although you can chill too if you’d like lol). Drop by teaspoonfuls 2″ apart on greased baking sheets. Mix the extra sugar & cinnamon; sprinkle over unbaked cookies. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.


Praying you experience His comfort and His joy this Christmas season,



  1. Grief is hard anytime, but seems sharper during the holidays. This will be our third Christmas without my sweet mama and they still feel a little "wrong" somehow. But I agree with you that because of Christmas we don't mourn like those who have no hope. Praise Jesus that this is not all there is! Virtual group hug! Merry Christmas!

  2. Hugs to you, Carrie, as you face this year milestone of the loss of your wonderful dad. Thanks for the recipe. I love banana bread, so I would love these cookies.

    1. Thank you, Sandy! I hope you get to try the cookie recipe - and that you love them as much as I do :)

  3. Prayers for you and your family as you go thru the journey of grief. It is very hard. Thanks for the recipe, it's a different one. Merry Christmas, Carrie!

    1. i hope you enjoy the cookies if you get to try them, Karen!

  4. Hugs to you, Carrie. Christmas does bring comfort and joy - and Jesus knows exactly who needs extra doses of either or both. Bless you, dear one!

  5. Those cookies sound yummy!! Thanks for sharing.

    And, yes, Christmas is really hard for some of us. I have friends who are going through fresh grief this year.

    1. i hope you enjoy the cookies if you try them, dear Pam :)

  6. Christmas is always a poignant time for me, as well, Carrie. But we know the Baby Jesus brought light to the dark world and so we rejoice in spite of pain and grief. Wishing you a joyous Advent.

  7. I know many of us are experiencing fresh grief this Christmas, but you are so right! Our grief is assuaged by the One who comes alongside us in this season, reminding us that for believers, death is the beginning of eternal joy and comfort is found in His presence.
    Keeping you in my prayers over the next few days, sweet Carrie!


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